Roco Rescue



Rescue Tech II Class: December 2011

Friday, January 06, 2012

We finished out the year with some great students in the Rescue Tech II course on December 12th-16th. In fact, three of the students came all the way from South Korea! Others were from Canada, Mississippi, South Carolina, Missouri and a couple of locals. To all our students, thank you for joining us in 2011 – we look forward to seeing you again soon!

read more 

Tower Rescue: Essential Training in a Global Landscape

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

It is becoming more and more difficult to find a hilltop or a ridge in America that does not have some type of telecom tower placed on it. Likewise, there are many other types of towers popping up across the countryside and in our urban and suburban areas. Everything from wind turbine towers to high tension transmission line towers.

In this piece, Roco Chief Pat Furr shares his experience in Tower Rescue.Furr is from Burlington, Vermont, and served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force as a Pararescueman (PJ). His background includes eight years as a member of the 71st Pararescue team in Anchorage, Alaska, where he specialized in mountain, and glacier rescue. He summited Mt. McKinley and augmented the National Park Service mountain rescue team and spent two tours of duty in Iceland where he put in multiple first ascent ice routes. Furr joined Roco in 2000, where he leads our Fall Protection and Tower Work & Rescue programs and serves as a Technical Rescue Consultant.

Tech Towers Demand Human Interaction

It is becoming more and more difficult to find a hilltop or a ridge in America that does not have some type of telecom tower placed on it. Likewise, there are many other typesof towers popping up across the countryside and in our urban and suburban areas. Everything from wind turbine towers to high tension transmission line towers.

One thing that is common to nearly all of these towers is that someone at some point must climb them. This is true during the initial erection of the tower, and at various times during maintenance, inspections, and equipment installations.

Sad Stats – Tower Work Claims 100 Fatalities a Year

The workers that climb these structures are a unique breed. They require specialized skills and equipment for the safe performance of their jobs. It is certainly a risky business and it is good to have both legislated (OSHA) and consensus standards like the National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) to provide guidance to help ensure safe work practices at height. Unfortunately, accidents are still happening on these structures. With the proliferation of cell towers across the nation, it is only logical that a corresponding increase in accidents is occurring. In fact, cell tower and other communication tower climbers have a fatality rate approaching 100 deaths per 100,000 workers annually.

If you are an employer of tower climbers, or if you are responsible to respond to a tower emergency as part of a municipal or rural emergency service, are you prepared to perform tower rescue? Have you trained for and practiced these types of rescues to ensure that you have the skills and equipment necessary to provide safe and efficient rescue? Most rural communities do not have ladder trucks as part of their equipment inventory. Even if they did, ladder trucks have a limited height range and most probably won’t provide adequate range to reach the victim anyway.

Easy to Learn

Tower rescue is not that complicated. In fact, it is quite straight forward as compared to other types of technical rescue such as confined space rescue, trench rescue, or structural collapse rescue. But even then, it still requires specialized training and equipment. The most obvious need is for much longer ropes than what you would require for most other types of rescues. Additionally, the need to be able to provide “one-on-one” rescue of a stricken co-worker is typical. The days of sending a single worker out to a tower climbing job are becoming less common, but there are still employers who see no problem sending a single climber out to change the lamp on a 1200-foot guyed tower.

Fortunately, in the time I have been involved with tower work and rescue, it is becoming more likely that the employer has at least a “buddy system” in place as part of their standard procedures. And, some employers now require a minimum of a three-person crew to provide a “team-on-one” rescue capability. Yes, two rescuers do qualify as a team rescue. Having two rescuers makes the task so much easier and safer than a single rescuer.

Physical Demands

One of the biggest wake-up calls for new tower climbers (and rescuers) is the level of physical fitness required to climb a significant height, especially if the weather is extremely hot or cold. Most folks have little trouble climbing a vertical or near vertical structure up to one or two hundred feet, especially if they are able to use a reliable vertical lifeline and climbing pegs. But if the height exceeds a couple hundred feet, or especially if the climb is protected with a Y-Lanyard instead of a vertical lifeline, then the task can become exhausting if proper technique is not used. Developing a “leapfrog rhythm” with the Y-lanyard or grasping the vertical posts instead of the horizontal sections on a guyed tower make a huge difference in reducing fatigue or forearm cramping.

Two Makes a Team

The techniques required for rescuing an injured or suspended worker from the tower are simple adaptations of existing rescue technique used for other rescue duties. The primary tasks require an ability to lift the victim a short ways to “un-tension” their fall arrest lanyard or work positioning system if they are suspended, and then providing a means to lower the victim to the ground. Depending on the height of the incident, the lower may be accomplished with one pitch of rope. For incidents where the height exceeds the length of the rope, a multi-pitch lower may be required. This is where having a minimum of two rescuers really pays off. Even better if the rescue rope is of sufficient length, one rescuer can operate the lift and lower from the ground, while the second rescuer performs minimal rigging at height.

Strategies for Success

There are a couple of strategies in providing rescue capability for towers. One mindset is to use a build-as-you-go rescue system that can be tailored for the specific structure and incident encountered. A second way is to use pre-built systems in an attempt to cover all situations. Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages. Generally, build-as-you-go systems require marginally more initial training and may not have the same degree of skill retention as pre-built systems. But their advantage is the system can be tailored to fit the situation more readily and the components of the system can also be used for planned work activities. Pre-built systems have a slightly higher rate of skill retention and are ready to be employed as soon as they are put into service. They are, however, limited to a specific function and are not typically used for any other purpose other than for rescue. These pre-built systems are typically packaged in a protective pouch and can be fairly bulky. Thus, they’re typically left at ground level and must be retrieved before a rescue can commence.

At Roco, we rely on a combination of both approaches. Understanding that build-as-you-go systems require a slightly higher degree of proficiency than most pre-built systems, we use very basic techniques that have proven to be retainable, effective, and very safe.

We advocate that the tower climbers have the minimum components required to construct a build-as-you-go rescue system clipped to their harness at all times while on the tower. Simply adding the rescue rope to the system provides a tower rescue capability without the need to rely on a pre-built system. However, for instances where a pre-built system makes the task easier, we have a lightweight and versatile system that works especially well in the event a line transfer while on rappel is required.

Whatever means you decide on to provide a tower rescue capability, as either a tower worker or as part of an emergency response team, it is absolutely imperative that you adhere to safe work practices while climbing by always using 100% fall protection. Seek out and attend professional tower rescue training; and, finally, ensure that the tower climbing/rescue equipment is in serviceable condition and is ready and available to be employed. For those of you in deer and elk country, be especially diligent to ensure that your pre-built system is where it’s supposed to be when hunting season comes around. Not only are they great for rescue, but they come in handy at the hunting camp also.

read more 

The Petzl story – It’s in the DNA

Thursday, December 15, 2011

This is how Petzl began, in my father’s 75 square meter workshop. My family – my father, mother, brother, wife, and I – designed the first tools for verticality and the first underground lamps, which lead, in 1972, to the Petzl headlamp.

Roco recently had the opportunity to interview Paul Petzl, President of Petzl. He shared with us some insight on the history and success of his company, which is headquartered in Crolles, France. We know your father Fernand, a cave explorer, started the company in the mid 1970’s. But isn’t it true that the beginnings of Petzl go back farther than that?

Fernand Petzl was born in 1913. He was a passionate caver all his life. In the 1930s, he and his brothers explored the caves of the Dent de Crolles, near Grenoble. Then, in 1936, he met Pierre Chevalier; together, they explored and charted the first 17 km of galleries there and obtained the first depth record in the world of caving. It was Chevalier who had the idea to make the first nylon rope, for use in caving, which he tested with my father in the Dent de Crolles.

The early 1950s was a very active time in caving. Fernand was appointed leader of the Gouffre Berger international expedition, which reached a depth of 1,122 meters, a new world record. From 1960 to 1970, Fernand put a lot into cave rescue, developing in his small workshop some unique but very handy objects, such as a litter, a pulley, and other systems to facilitate underground rescue.

In 1969, Fernand, with my brother Peter, started manufacturing a descender and a belay device designed by a caver named Bruno Dressler. This time was also a turning point in caving, as ropes replaced ladders as the sole means of vertical movement. This technique had already been developed by Jumar, for mountaineering, but cavers took the technique and adapted it for underground use. And this is how Petzl began…in my father’s 75 square meter workshop. My family – my father, mother, brother, wife, and I – designed the first tools for verticality and the first underground lamps, which lead, in 1972, to the Petzl headlamp.

What is the most innovative device Petzl has ever created?

Simplicity and efficiency for the user have always been primary goals in Petzl innovations. For example, on the first headlamp we designed, we put the battery on the elastic headband. This might seem obvious to experienced users, but we were the first to do it. When Fernand invented the SHUNT, a mechanical prussic, he created a device that could ascend or descend on one or two ropes, even if those ropes were muddy or frozen. We also created the TIBLOC, the lightest ascender in the world, with no moving parts.

But the GRIGRI is without a doubt the most iconic Petzl tool, which was first designed for climbing and later adapted for professional use. The EXO and the GRILLION are both based on the GRIGRI’s design. The EXO is currently being used by fire departments around the United States as a solution for emergency escape and descent, while the GRILLON is a positioning lanyard for professionals. I would never have imagined that the GRIGRI would be so useful for so many different types of customers. It’s because of our customers, who have used this tool in various capacities, that we’ve been able to adapt it so well. In fact, Petzl does not seek primarily to meet the market, but to solve a problem. It is an approach guided more by the solution than by business. This is probably why we have been such an innovative company – and our innovations have helped progression across many disciplines.

Here at Roco, we are big fans of the Petzl ID, and so are our students. We know that one of your focal points is innovation. Are you working on other decent control devices?

I think it’s important to understand why we designed the ID in the first place: Petzl began working with rope-access workers in the 1990s, when this professional activity was just getting started. At this time, most rope-access companies were run by cavers, a group we knew well. It was easy with them; we spoke the same language. But things changed when we encountered more traditional professionals. We were not recognized – indeed, we were rejected as acrobats, people interested only in fun, not professionals. And, at first, most of these professionals rejected the rope as a means of vertical movement. So, we imagined a solution to convert them – a descender that was both reliable and that would reduce the possibility of user error as much as possible.

Today, the ID is used by professionals worldwide and has become a key component in technical rescue applications. Since its launch in 2000, we have made several modifications to the product based on user feedback. One modification involved adding a button on the descent handle, offering increased control when operating on inclines. And, in response to a specific request coming from the North American fire/rescue market, we removed the safety catch from the ID-L side plate, allowing the device to meet the general-use requirements of NFPA 1983. In early 2010, we launched a new descent-control device called the RIG. The design and functionality of this device is geared towards experienced rope-access technicians, who require a simple descender for day-to-day use in many different types of environment. Put simply, we’re always innovating. Developing solutions to help people access the vertical world is at the core of our mission, and we’re just getting started. In fact, we’re currently building a new facility for our R&D division.

In your corporate video, you say how important it is to work with end-users in the development of products. How do climbers, mountaineers, cavers and working at height professionals get ideas to you?

When Petzl is considering new products, prototype samples are sent to Petzl prescriptors – experts in their fields who can provide very specific feedback on product design and functionality. This occurs years before we finalize the product. We also appreciate and consider the constant feedback we receive from end-users via the contact form on our website or other channels.

Because we offer solutions for professionals and those in the sport world, we’re able to cross-pollinate, taking the best ideas from all across the vertical world. I think that the best example of this is the GRIGRI, which was designed first for the caver, then adapted for the climber, then for the arborist, and finally for fire departments around the United States. It is often the user who sees the possible uses of the product. It is the excellent relationship we’ve had with our end-users that has inspired our curiosity and driven our desire to please. It is a field-based approach used by our R&D engineers, who are passionate about verticality in the sport and professional realms.

Several products relative to rescue are now tested to the NFPA 1983 standard here in the United States. Do you see more Petzl products having US certifications in the future?

Many of our key rescue products, including harnesses, ropes, pulleys, connectors, descenders and ascenders, are certified to meet NFPA 1983 standards. Because Petzl is a global company, it is challenging to meet the domestic certification requirements of the more than 50 countries in which we distribute our products. Our hope is that international standards, such as ISO will become more universally adopted in the countries in which we distribute. For example, our NAVAHO BOD harness currently carries four different certifications from four different bodies: EN, CSA, ANSI, and NFPA. This creates a lengthy list of equipment performance and labeling requirements on such products.

Tell us about the Petzl Foundation and the Petzl Institute.

The three founding pillars of Petzl are to create innovative tools, to share expertise as widely as possible, and to share the success of the company with our employees and communities. The Petzl Foundation springs from the third pillar, as it seeks to share our business success with our communities. After all, it is our communities that enable us to exist.

I decided to create the Foundation after hearing of a wonderful initiative led by Petzl America. Thanks to a larger national effort, they were able to help preserve access for climbers to Utah’s Castleton Tower. I realized then that the Foundation could be a powerful tool for good, operating outside of the business framework and competitive constraints of our company. The Foundation has already invested 1.3 million Euro in 40 projects.

After two years, I decided to invest 10% of our profits in the Foundation, to support projects that serve our communities in three core areas: safety awareness, environmental protection and preservation, and fundamental research. The Foundation’s Board of Directors is comprised of members with varied background but who share the same goal, which is to contribute to the common good.

Among the Foundation’s most iconic projects is a guide training we developed for Nepali people in Nepal. We’ve also developed training documentation for firefighters and mountaineers. We developed crevasse safety training, helped protect birds of prey living in cliff-side environments, and funded studies to better understand ice flow and formation. We contributed to save the oldest hut in the Alps, the Refuge of the Eagle, from destruction. We proposed a solution that would improve safety in the Goûter corridor, the main access to Mont Blanc. (To date, more than 200 deaths have been recorded in the corridor.)

Since Petzl’s creation 40 years ago, we have always wanted to share with our customers what we learned and what we received from them. With the construction of our V.axess center, we have moved in the direction of our second pillar, which is the sharing of knowledge and expertise. V.axess, The Petzl Institute, will help bring more expertise to the Petzl distribution network and to their customers. The idea is to always move toward a better understanding of the risks that exist in the vertical world.

I wouldn’t want to conclude the interview without asking about your wife, Catherine. Does she still play a part in managing the business?

Without Catherine, I would not have become Paul PETZL, and PETZL would not have achieved financial security. She was in charge of the business administration, home life, raising the children, and, especially, she has supported all my dreams. She is still a part of the business on a daily basis. As she says, it’s her pleasure to satisfy her customers, so they receive their orders on time and in the right quantities. And, this is no easy job…because of the success of our products, they are not always available!
read more 

Trench Rescue…A thinking game

Monday, December 12, 2011

Roco Chief Instructor Randy Miller explains that trench collapse injuries and/or death is way too common in civil construction, and industrial maintenance projects. The sluggish economy entices organizations to cut corners, after all – time is money. This trend also extends to the homeowner and weekend warrior. Rather than hiring a certified/trained “trench” professional , do-it- yourself or do-it-with-the-resources on-hand seems the more practical. This breeds disaster.

Miller explains, “REMEMBER: It’s not IF it’s going to collapse again, but WHEN it’s going to collapse again.”

Watch this new video on the importance of Trench Rescue Training, where Miller describes hazards of trench work, and offers 5 tips for safer trench rescue practices.

Five helpful tips for Trench rescue:

1. Personal accountability – Know where all your rescuers are at all times.

2. Keep the area clear – Often the first reaction in a trench collapse is to look, which adds more weight on the sides of the trench, increasing the likelihood of collapse.

3. Work from a safe area – Spread out the weight around the trench (e.g. laying wood down around the trench before stepping near or around it).

4. The best trench rescue is a “non-entry” rescue – If possible, get the trapped victim to begin digging himself out by giving him the right tools, right away. This gives the victim something to focus on while first responders develop an action plan.

5. Donʼt get in over your head – If you are not trained, wait. Donʼt create more victims.

Miller urges all first responders (EMS, fire department, police department, and industrial rescue teams) to receive at minimum an Awareness level of training in Trench Rescue.  First line supervisors are encouraged to advance to the Technician level training.

Roco offers a 20-hour Trench Rescue Technician training course. 
read more 


Wednesday, December 07, 2011

We’ve had so many requests for “advanced-level scenario training” that we’ve added Rescue IV to our 2011 schedule. You can add new techniques to your rescue toolbox while putting your problem-solving skills to the test.Challenging confined space and high-angle evolutions, including Roco’s“Yellow Brick Road” multi-station scenario, will give rescuers and rescue teams the most realistic rescue experience possible. This 40-hour course will challenge participants in a wide variety of confined space and high angle rescue scenarios.

Prerequisite: Rescue I-Plus or Industrial I/II

Challenging confined space and high-angle evolutions, including Roco’s “Yellow Brick Road” multi-station scenario, will give rescuers and rescue teams the most realistic rescue experience possible. This 40-hour course will challenge participants in a wide variety of confined space and high angle rescue scenarios.Advanced problem-solving skills and additional techniques will equip rescuers to function more effectively in time-critical emergency situations. This 40-hour course will challenge individual rescuers and rescue teams in a wide variety of confined space and high angle rescue scenarios. These scenarios will increase in complexity to include simulated IDLH and non-IDLH atmospheres, using both SCBA and SAR air equipment. For training conducted at Roco’s training facility, practice scenarios will be completed in all six (6) types of representative confined spaces. At other sites, the number of types completed will depend on the availability of practice spaces.This course will provide documented confined space practice scenarios in accordance with OSHA 1910.146 and as referenced in NPFA 1006.

OSHA 1910.146(k)(2)(iv)

Ensure that affected employees practice making permit space rescues at least once every 12 months, by means of simulated rescue operations in which they remove dummies, manikins, or actual persons from the actual permit spaces or from representative permit spaces. Representative permit spaces shall, with respect to opening size, configuration, and accessibility, simulate the types of permit spaces from which rescue is to be performed.

NFPA 1006 A.3.3.38 Confined Space Type

Figure A.3.3.38* shows predefined types of confined spaces normally found in an industrial setting. Classifying spaces by “types” can be used to prepare a rescue training plan to include representative permit spaces for simulated rescue practice as specified by OSHA. (*Roco Confined Space Types Chart)
read more 

Previous Next
1 .. 38 39 40 41 42 .. 61

RescueTalk ( has been created as a free resource for sharing insightful information, news, views and commentary for our students and others who are interested in technical rope rescue. Therefore, we make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, or suitability of any information and are not liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. Users and readers are 100% responsible for their own actions in every situation. Information presented on this website in no way replaces proper training!